When I quit the seven-day-a-week job that I had held for 21 years as manager of a retail operation, I decided to lose weight and get fit. In retrospect, I wonder if the stress of that unrelenting schedule contributed significantly to my obesity.
Perhaps so, because look at this article about a report that Zofia Zukowska of Georgetown University and her colleagues published in the Journal of Nature Medicine.
Some of us suspected it was true, but now the evidence is in. In an animal study, researchers uncovered a biological link between stress and obesity. They subjected mice to chronic stress—either standing in cold water an hour a day or being caged with a more aggressive alpha mouse for ten minutes a day. Then the researchers gave the mice their regular food or a high-fat, high-sugar diet (a.k.a. junk food).
According to the findings, published online in Nature Medicine, the stressed junk-food eaters gained a significant amount of weight after only two weeks (about twice as much as the more relaxed junk-food eaters). And the fat they gained was more likely to be the bad kind that leads to high blood pressure, early diabetes and high cholesterol.
More research on humans is needed, of course. But in the meantime, if you’re trying to lose weight or keep from regaining, you might want to consider getting your stress level under control.